Delivery vans driven by electric motors and batteries instead of internal combustion engines will grow in market-revenue share almost 10-fold and account for 2.4 million sales annually by 2030, according to UK market research firm IDTechEx.
The research firm released a report this week giving its 10-year outlook on light commercial vehicle (LCV) sales across the globe, and the thrust of its finding is that more businesses will switch over to EV not because of climate altruism, but cold economic rationale.
"The main discourse around on-road vehicle electrification has been primarily focused on environmental concerns about the automotive sector’s contribution to climate change and the damaging effect on human health of exhaust pollutants," it said.
"For businesses keen to address the environmental impact of their vehicle fleets a degree of altruism has always been required.
"[But] in the electric light commercial vehicle market, this is about to change. In the near future, the main motivation for businesses to transition to eLCV will not be environmental but economic."
The main reason for this, the report claims, is that LCV operators primarily base their purchasing decisions on total cost-of-ownership (TCO) rather than just the purchase price.
So the greater upfront cost of electric LCVs over a diesel model is offset by the "significant" operational cost savings yielded from using electricity as a fuel. The research firm claims the TCO for a small e-LCV will be equivalent to a diesel LCV as soon as 2025.
"Over the next decade, as battery pack prices decrease, electric drivetrain efficiencies improve and significant economy of scale savings are realised on the cost of electric components and vehicle manufacturing, it will become a competitive advantage for companies to operate electric vans as they will offer the lowest cost solution," it added.
"The addition of road charges for diesel vehicles in low emission zones within urban centres will swing the TCO balance heavily in favour of electric LCV."
We know a number of car OEMs, startups, and delivery companies are already replacing their fleets. Renault, Nissan or Mercedes-Benz already offer EV vans, while other logistics companies are co-developing their own bespoke alternatives.
For one example, UK electric vehicle startup Arrival has inked a multi-hundred-million euro deal with American logistics giant UPS to supply it with at least 10,000 battery-powered delivery vans from now through 2024.
Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation recently co-invested 100 million euros (about AU$160 million) into the same UK company, asking it to co-develop small and mid-sized EVs for logistics, on-demand ride-sharing and shuttle service operators.
Geely-owned electric vehicle (EV) maker, London Electric Vehicle Company, recently divulged plans to introduce an all-electric van model to its line-up, joining its hybrid TX taxi and shuttle models.